I've been posting updates about the Room Full of Spoons documentary for the past five years here on r/movies & r/theroom - I was in touch with some of the crew for a while - and the following are all of my updates put into chronological order.
I suspect we'll hear more about the events surrounding this years-long court case going forward (Tommy testified on the bench for nearly 2 days, and you know that shit is comedy gold), but for now, here is the most complete sequence of events for anyone who is OOTL.
Not all of this is completely necessary information, but my god, the little details are hilarious.
Some time around 2002, prior to filming 'The Room'
- During casting, Tommy Wiseau hires Sandy Schklair
as the "Script Supervisor." He claims Tommy initially asked him to not only be the script supervisor but also to “tell the actors what to do, and yell ‘Action’ and ‘Cut’ and tell the cameraman what shots to get.”
Here’s the exchange, according to Schklair:
Schklair: “Umm…you want me to direct your project?”Wiseau: “No! I am director!”Schklair: “Yeah, you’re the director, whatever. But you want me to direct your movie for you?”April/May 2011Wiseau: “Yes, please.”
- Amateur filmmaker, Rick Harper
, attends a screening of 'The Room' in Ottawa, and falls in love (I use that term loosely) with the film.
- He forms a production company called Rockhaven Pictures
in order to sponsor an appearance by Wiseau & co-star Greg Sestero at a Canadian screening, and puts up $1,500 for their travel and time.
- Upon meeting, they hit it off and become good friends. "Harper convinced Wiseau to give him a job expanding the reach of the film to new international markets, selling merchandise and dealing with other assistant-type tasks ... Fairly soon thereafter, Harper pitched Wiseau on the idea of working on a documentary about “The Room,” which he says Wiseau originally agreed to co-produce as part of Wiseau-Films.
Harper: "He was super excited about the idea! This was the break any fan and aspiring filmmaker could dream of.”
- Harper purchases $10,000 worth of equipment, and assembles a crew. They get footage in Ottawa and then visit Tommy in L.A.
- While in LA, the filmmakers schedule interviews with some of the original cast. The first interview they conduct is with Sandy Schklair. He tells Harper that he actually directed the film, and upon conducting further interviews with other cast members, he comes to the conclusion that Schklair is telling the truth. “I directed the Room,” he says, "I directed every single day of that project ... Tommy has spent the last 8 years lying that he directed this movie ... he didn't direct a single frame."
Those claims were also confirmed by an Entertainment Weekly article about The Room
: "At least one Room cast member backs up this version of events. 'The script supervisor ended up sort of directing the movie,' says the actor, who requested anonymity. 'Tommy was so busy being an actor that this other guy directed the whole thing.'” According to Rick Harper, "I think he just wanted me to go from theater to theater and interview fans and talk about their experiences and why it’s so amazing and what an awesome guy Tommy is. So once he found out that I was coming to L.A. for more than a screening — that I’d started scheduling in interviews — he started to get scared. Before my first trip to L.A. he called me and told me who not to interview.
- Tommy flips out after discovering that they had interviewed Schklair (someone he explicitly told them to stay away from).
- After traveling to New York to meet with Tommy and continue filming, they receive an email (from Tommy using a pseudonym) stating that he was no longer interested in participating, and wouldn't be in New York.
- Despite the setback, they continue to NY to film b-roll footage, and randomly find Tommy eating at a deli.
- Three years into filming, the documentary filmmakers reconnect with Tommy & Greg at a book signing. They all have dinner together, and Tommy encourages them to complete the film.
- James Franco acquires the film rights to The Room co-star Greg Sestero's tell-all book, The Disaster Artist
, and starts shooting his movie. It is later revealed that Tommy sold the rights to his "life-story" to Franco as well.
- Tommy suddenly has a reverse-course, and threatens legal action while trying to shut down the documentary Kickstarter campaign to finance the film, forcing them to remove the trailer and any mention of Wiseau.
- Filming of Room Full of Spoons is completed.
- Tommy Wiseau preemptively attacks the documentary film, going so far as to post a video on youtube
accusing the filmmakers of "bulling" [sic] and exploiting 'The Room' fans.
- 'Room Full of Spoons' premiers at theaters in Canada, the UK and the US.
- Further distribution of the doc is impeded for unknown reasons. Kickstarter contributors who were promised DVD copies do not receive them.
- The official Twitter account of 'Room Full of Spoons'
posts an open letter entitled "This is why you haven't seen Room Full of Spoons... yet."
"We've attempted to come to an agreement with Mr. Wiseau for over a year now with royalty offers, and have even made numerous edits and revisions to the film for the sake of coming to a compromise. Despite our best efforts, it would seem the only thing that would satisfy him is to have final cut of our film. In addition to approximately 40 cuts and edits that he wants us to make to the film, Tommy's requests include making the documentary '60% more positive,' and claims that James Franco said we should remove Sandy Schklair from the documentary entirely ... Because of the above, Tommy Wiseau and Wiseau Films have been attempting to block 'Room Full of Spoons' by contacting venues and festivals claiming that our film violates copyright laws, claims that are untrue ... It is likely that the independent theaters where you have watched 'The Room' have received a letter from Wiseau Films warning that if they screen 'Room Full of Spoons' Tommy will instantly ban 'The Room' from ever screening there again."
- Theater workers/owners report receiving letters that read as follows:Subject: LICENSE / NOT GRANTED / THE ROOM SCREENING Hello [name redacted], We apologize for any inconvenience. At this time we can't and will not be granting you the License to screen "The Room." due to conflict of Screenings. Once this is resolved we will let you know. We apologize, Please cancel Screening. Thank you for your correlation. [sic] Sincerely, Raul Adm. Wiseau-Films
- Tommy (assuming it's likely him using a pseudonym) starts popping up
on the comment section of the 'Room Full of Spoons' IMDB page, saying things like "Tommy Wiseau is not supporting this project due to false statements related to TW's creation which is The Room. MR. Harper stated that script title The Room is not exists; check The Room DVD or Blu-ray. He even borrow The Room poster format and place his own face on it (the same color and fonts ). NO ORIGINAL WORK!"
. An account also pops up on Reddit, further complaining that the doc is in "violation of US and Canadian copyright law" due to using "private communication" illegally.
- Rick Harper explains further
September 2016"His main concern was that he claimed we infringed on his copyright. Here in Canada there is a thing called fair deal for any type of doc or review – you can use certain copyrighted materials in certain contexts. In one of our conversations, he said he would license The Room to us for $500. So I was like, ok. And I told him that I knew that as soon as I’d hang up, he’d send an email asking for more money. And literally the next day he asked for $995. And I was like, that’s fine, I can do that, send me an invoice. He absolutely refused to send me an invoice, instead telling me to go on the website and click ‘donate’ and donate $995. I can’t bring that to court. There’s no receipt or invoice. And now we’re at a point where he’s asking for $150,000 for licensing. And he’s been asking for numerous changes done to the movie. He saw the movie well over a year ago and had a small list of demands, so we negotiated, saying we’d do five of the eight. Then he came back with another 20 changes and another 27 changes. It was never ending."
- The Sydney Underground Film announces that it will be screening Room Full of Spoons as a part of its 2016 series, and days before the event was to kick off, the film festival was threatened with a lawsuit by Wiseau, and forced to cancel the film
- the first ever cancellation in the festival's history. The festival agreed to replace the screening of The Room Full of Spoons with a legitimate screening of The Room, complete with an appearance by Wiseau himself. Here's what the festival organizer had to say about the situation:
May 2017“This whole saga with Tommy started about two weeks ago. We received these emails from an apparent lawyer of Wiseau films saying that we’d breached copyright. It was really funny because all the emails were misspelled and had really terrible grammar, and if you read it in the Tommy Wiseau accent it sounds exactly like Tommy. For a week and a half I [asked] the lawyers to send me information and keep asking questions and made numerous phone calls every single day. I was just engaging them constantly because I knew that every single time I engaged them it would cost Tommy money. There’s a certain irony that we’ve prided ourselves on getting stuff through the censors, sort of side-stepping any potential legal issues — when Bruce LaBruce’s film L.A. Zombie got banned we screened one that was three times worse and we got it through the censors fine ... The first time we’re forced to pull something is because of the world’s worst filmmaker; I just think that’s so ironic.”
- After six months of silence from The Room Full of Spoons filmmakers, it was announced that the film would be released on DVD in June, and a preorder page went live.
- June had nearly come to a close and people were wondering when they would receive shipping notifications. On June 25th, the filmmakers posted an update to Twitter
, once again saying they had been hit with a legal setback by Tommy, and had received a court ordered injunction blocking its release.
November 25, 2019
- Radio silence from both sides. Tommy effectively ties up the release of the film through the court systems.
- We'll later learn that Tommy failed to show up for his first day in court.
December 10, 2019
- Light is finally shed on the court proceedings when the documentary filmmakers post a court transcript
- Tommy decided to represent himself in court after firing his previous 4 (or possibly 5) lawyers, and asked for the case to be dismissed... because he doesn't have a lawyer!
- The judge is tired of his shit, and says no. He recommends that, if Tommy wants good legal representation, he should pay his lawyers an appropriate retainer. His previous lawyer quit when Wiseau offered him $25k for what would normally be a $100-150k job.
- The judge doesn't mince words. He states that Tommy is obviously trying to block the release of the documentary by using endless litigation, and sets a trial date for January 2020. Additionally, he requires Tommy to hire lawyers for the trial, specifically so that he doesn't use "lack of representation" as an excuse to throw it out.
January 3rd, 2020
- Another court transcript
- Once again, Tommy comes to court without a lawyer.
- He tries three different times to have the trial dismissed, delayed, or changed. The judge appropriately tells him to fuck off. He then says that he wants to hire a lawyer that used to work with his opponent's lawyers. Again appropriately, the judge tells him that's a stupid thing to do, and recommends that Tommy hire someone else.
- Tommy then accuses the documentary filmmakers of forging documents and tampering with evidence. When the judge asks him to point out which documents have been tampered with, Tommy is unable to do so. Additionally, Tommy refuses to give his address to the judge, calling such a request "laughable," and submits a PO box address instead.
- When his attempts to delay the trial fail miserably, Tommy claims that the documentary filmmakers can't use quotes from "The Disaster Artist" in their film, and the judge allows for a week of cross-examinations.
- Another court transcript is released
- Tommy still has a lawyer problem. After his previous 5 lawyers quit because he refused to pay them, he sends his 6th lawyer to court in an attempt to "totally withdraw" the case, claiming that...
- the Canadian court system is stupid ("stacked against foreigners," to be precise).
- he's obviously going to lose the case.
- evidence has been tampered with (even though Tommy refuses to say what evidence he's talking about).
- The judge is taking none of his shit, and refuses to drop the case. In legalese, he rips Tommy a new asshole, telling him that the court has bent over backwards to accommodate his requests, and that he has dug his own grave.
- He reiterates that he knows Tommy is using the courts to stall the release of the film, and that if he dropped the case, Tommy would just file another lawsuit in a different town, once again potentially blocking the release of the documentary for years to come.
- Tommy asks if he can testify via teleconferencing, and the judge refuses, stating that Tommy is so unintelligible and confusing, he shouldn't even be in a courtroom without his lawyer physically by his side. To quote the judge, "My experience with Mr. Wiseau over the last two years is that communication with him can be challenging."
- Because Tommy is a very stable genius, he refused to pay the costs for court transcripts and trial records, forcing the documentary filmmakers to pay for them instead. Between this and his refusal to pay his lawyers, the judge is obviously not happy with Tommy's cheap-ass.
- The cherry on top: Tommy gave the judge the name and phone number of a witness he wanted to testify at the trial, but when contacted, the witness had no idea what the judge was talking about, and didn't even know about the trial.
- The case is tried, and the judge is expected to hand down his verdict within 2-3 months.
EDIT: Corrected the January court documents link, and just wanted to say thanks for the awards, obligatory "RIP my inbox," and no, I'm not giving you a TL;DR.
- The judge hands down his verdict
- He says Tommy used SLAPP suits to try to prevent the film from being rightfully released, and that the documentary filmmakers did not break any copyright laws or harm Wiseau's "reputation."
- He orders Wiseau to pay $500,000 for lost revenue, and 200,000 CAD for punitive damages. In the Judge's own words, Tommy was “oppressive and outrageous” in his litigation. He also hints that the blocking of the film may have had something to do with the release of The Disaster Artist movie, and the fact that Tommy had already sold "the rights to his life-story" to James Franco.